Solarvista’s Paul Adams explains why pre-project preparation is perhaps the most important stage of any software implementation...
OK so you’ve made the case to your board that your field service operation will be more efficient and cost effective if you can move to a new software system. Finally you get the green light to go ahead select and your software and then before you know it your facing managing a huge change to the way your business operates.
Getting the implementation of this software right or wrong could be the difference between your company flourishing or floundering and if it was you that put the case together for this software, then the same may likely apply to your career as well!
So what are the biggest risks and most common pitfalls companies face with enterprise software implementation?
Well perhaps one of the biggest risks around the implementation of field service management software, or indeed any enterprise grade software, is simply understanding and managing expectations. What expectations do you have of your software supplier: i.e. are they just to supply the software or is there an element of change management to be undertaken by them as well?
It’s absolutely key to discuss with your software provider exactly what your expectations are.
It’s absolutely key to discuss with your software provider exactly what your expectations are and through open and honest dialogue you and your provider will be able to agree clear goals and also make sure all expectations are both realistic and easily measured.
Often it is the work that goes on in the pre-project phase that will define how successful an implementation is. It may be natural for some companies, especially larger organisations, to be assessing their processes on a semi-ongoing basis.
However, for many, especially those companies that are going through a rapid period of growth or expansion, this may not be the case. Often the strategic, forward looking stuff can be tricky simply because the number one focus of satisfying customers dominates absolutely everything.
Understand your processes
However it is crucial that before even getting a software vendor involved you make the time to identify exactly what your current ‘as-is’ processes are. What do you and your team do at the ground level day in and day out?
Here it’s all about understanding those nuances and where efficiencies can be made. Understanding where bureaucratic processes have evolved into some monstrous beast and inefficient processes are not questioned simply because they’ve just always been done like that.
Really having a good understanding of your day-to-day business processes is something that any company can do and having this insight is one thing that will massively help further down the line.
When it comes to the actual implementation very rarely is software implementation project just a software implementation project.
It’s natural if you get a lot of fear at user level during a project.
So there is a massive element of change management to be considered as part of the wider project plan. Again setting expectations is key.
It’s vital you outline the reasoning for bringing in the new software, what that means in terms of changing processes and then what that in turn means for the individual end-users - how will the change will benefit them?
And whilst the responsibility for managing this process of course ultimately lies with your company, a software provider can certainly offer guidance and expertise in not just implementing software but also in implementing projects. We can help guide you through the transition and help you manage expectations of both the executive board and the user base.
At Solarvista we often play a big part in the project management as when implementing software we typically go through the business process analysis stages with our customers. We work alongside our customers to understand their processes so we can outline where automation can improve the workflow. In that sense a software provider becomes absolutely integral to the whole change management process, and again a clear understanding of where you are currently and where you see yourselves post implementation will make the whole project run much more efficiently
Ultimately the key factor is knowing your scope, knowing what you want and understanding your expectations. It’s an often-heard phrase in project management that people don’t know they want it until they’ve not got it.
Unless at the start of the process you know exactly what you want, your expectations may well be different from reality. This could then have a serious impact on the success of the project as it could potentially cause delays and additional costs.
Understanding the scope of the project at the outset and really getting to the nitty-gritty of that understanding is therefore key.